[Joshua 3] Moving from Problem to Potential. In this chapter the people prepare to cross Jordan into Canaan. Canaan was not heaven but it did represent the fulfillment of every promise God made from Abraham to Moses. In crossing over their focus was on the Ark of God’s presence. To move from your problem to your potential you must 1.) Follow the Ark of God’s Presence in Your Life; 2.) Move forward in in Humility.
[Jos 3:1-17 KJV] 1 And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. 2 And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; 3 And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
The people are encamped at the Jordan and will soon cross over into Canaan’s conquest. The word Jordan in Hebrew means “descender, to go low, to sink, to be prostrate, to be brought down or taken down”. In popular thought Jordan often represents death and crossing over into heaven. But again Canaan land is not heaven because in heaven there will be no battle, no walls of Jericho and no giants to kill. Jordan is the place of humility God brings you through on your way out of problems into your potential. The wilderness speaks of process and Canaan speaks of outcome. Let us never forget that a personal prophecy given centuries before is the whole reason why the people are here at all. Noah prophesied to his oldest son Shem that his descendants the Hebrews would rule over the descendants of Canaan (now in the land before them). The entire tableau of moving from Egypt through the wilderness into Canaan is a template or example of seeing a personal prophecy brought to pass in ancient times and if you follow the example – in your life. People often ask “where do you find personal prophecy in the bible” – to which the answer is “where do you NOT find it”? Personal prophecy is found from Genesis to Revelation in almost every major transaction between God and man.
The officers of the people (their leaders) go through the host and prepare the people to follow the ark of God over the Jordan. Notice when the people cross Jordan they are following the ark not following their leaders. Paul said in 1 Cor. 11:1 “follow me as I follow Christ…” True and mature leaders will teach you and train you and provoke you to follow the ark of God’s presence in your life. True and mature leaders will not impede or discourage you or get insecure when you follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life. The glory of God that distinguished the ark as a spiritual artifact rests in your heart according to Col. 1:26,27 “Christ in you the hope of Glory…”
4 Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed [this] way heretofore.
It is interesting that the distance between the people and the ark measured also the square cubits of the Holy Place that stood between the outer court measuring 4000 square cubits and the Holy of Holies measuring 1000 square cubits where the ark rested. In the Holy Place was the lampstand, the table of showbread and the altar of incense all representing the ministry of church age. This is a picture of what the Hebrews never saw – a church age between their time and the coming of the Messiah. Because of this they crucified Jesus when He came not to establish an earthly kingdom but to build the church.
5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you. 6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
The “tomorrow” Joshua is speaking of is the DAY OF THE LORD represented as the current day of the law ending and the day of the church beginning. Now after 2000 years we are coming to the ending of the CHURCH DAY and moving into the NEXT day of the Lord. The Jews handled this transition badly when they crucified Jesus. Let us hope that the church doesn’t resist what God is doing as WE transition into the day ahead symbolized by the 1000 sq. cubit dimensions of the Holy of Holies.
Notice that the leaders are to BEAR THE ARK (of God’s presence before the people). They didn’t go before the people saying “look at us”. They went before the people saying “look to HIM”! There is in our Christian culture an unfortunate emulation of the cult of celebrity and lifting up of leaders as the anchor points for our spiritual attention rather than lifting up Christ. Paul foresaw this and warned:
[2Co 4:5 KJV] 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, [so] I will be with thee. 8 And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.
How did God magnify or establish the leadership of Joshua? By sending him to the place of humility. By instructing that the presence of God be emphasized above the glory of man or drawing attention to man. The leadership of Joshua was ratified when the ark of God’s presence was lifted up above all else. Notice the emphasis on the presence of God. Sometimes we fall into the error of emphasizing spiritual truths as a historical reference rather than pointing to the living presence of God in our midst. We say “because of what was done centuries ago and recorded in the bible – FOLLOW ME…” rather than “look to the lamb of God IN YOU and the KINGDOM OF GOD in YOU and FOLLOW HIM”!
Were they to rush through the place of humility? No they were to go into the midst of the Jordan and stand still. God is known in the stillness you find within yourself. Humility is a river. It is a crossing over. It is a place where problems give way to potential. God wants us to linger in the place of humility until it affects our character with permanence and transformation.
9 And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the LORD your God. 10 And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God [is] among you, and [that] he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan.
When you sanctify yourselves (separate yourself) and linger in the place of humility then you are in WITHOUT FAIL, NEVER FAIL territory. Remember the seven nations and their meanings? They will all be driven out of your life:
Hittites [FEAR] (terror, fear)
Girgashites [SINFUL FLESH] (dwelling in clay – i.e. living in the flesh).
Amorites [PERVERSE SPEECH] (a sayer – i.e. perverse speech. Fast talker).
Canaanites [CORRUPTION] (low dweller – i.e. lowest common denominator, debauchery)
Perizites [COMPROMISE] (village dweller – i.e. following the crowd, unwalled village)
Hivites [SELFISHNESS] (collector, to roll in a circle – i.e. “us four no more”)
Jebusites [DISCOURAGEMENT] (trodden down – i.e. discouragement)
12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. 13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, [that] the waters of Jordan shall be cut off [from] the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
We always the question “when is God going to do what He promised?” When the SOLES OF YOUR FEET or your actions are brought to bear. Jesus said in Luke 17:20,21 that the kingdom of God doesn’t come by observation. What you do with what God has said is much more powerful than what you are waiting on God to do or say. You must move forward. Enlargement doesn’t come till you act. Nothing supernatural will take place until you act. God’s intervention will be absent from your life in every area where you are still not moving forward in faith. Smith Wigglesworth said “fear looks – faith jumps”. If you are waiting you are in fear. If you are acting you are in faith.
14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; 15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) 16 That the waters which came down from above stood [and] rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that [is] beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, [even] the salt sea, failed, [and] were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. 17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
The people removed from their tents. You must step out beyond yourself. You must find and follow the leaders that are lifting up the ark of God’s presence on the inside of you and not preaching outward dependence or focus. If your leaders are emphasizing something other than Christ in you the hope of Glory they are leading you back into the wilderness and not into your Canaan land. The value of leadership is measure by the degree they point to and lift up and emphasis CHRIST IN YOU the HOPE of GLORY and not any outward dependence, alignment or covering.
The waters of the Jordan parted and the people came across on dry ground when the feet of those bearing the ark touched the water. Two things are necessary to cross from your problem into your potential – carrying the ark and moving forward. Many carry the ark of God’s presence but they aren’t moving forward. Many move forward but their faith is in something else other than what is on the inside of them. You have to get this right. Put your confidence in the ark of God’s presence inside you and move forward expecting. This and only this will give you a clean exit from the wilderness experience.